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COP28 Chief Al-Jaber Calls for Phase-Out of Fossil Fuel Emissions, Promises to ‘Supercharge’ Climate Finance

by Martina Igini Europe May 3rd 20233 mins
COP28 Chief Al-Jaber Calls for Phase-Out of Fossil Fuel Emissions, Promises to ‘Supercharge’ Climate Finance

Abu Dhabi’s oil chief, who was recently appointed as COP28 chief, told the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin that “mobilising” private finance and developing emission reduction technologies were among the upcoming UN climate summit’s priorities.

The UN COP28 chief and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) Sultan al-Jaber has outlined a plan to “supercharge” global climate finance and finally deliver the long-awaited $100 billion to help developing nations adapt to climate change.

Speaking at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin on Tuesday, the UAE’s president-designate of the upcoming UN climate conference urged wealthy nations to deliver on a commitment made 14 years ago to donate $100 billion per year from 2020 to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change to support their climate adaptation efforts.

“Expectations are high. Trust is low,” al-Jaber said. “This is holding up progress and as part of my outreach, I am requesting donor countries to provide a definitive assessment on the delivery of this commitment before COP28.”

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock told representatives of more than 40 countries who gathered in Berlin to prepare the ground for successful negotiations at November’s climate conference that developed nations are on track to deliver the money this year. However, she admitted that this alone is not enough and called for the mobilisation of private capital and additional funds from the International Monetary Fund as well as a restructuring of poor countries’ debts.

Speaking to the attendees, Jaber also emphasised the need to phase out fossil fuel emissions, rather than production, by focussing on the development of new emission reduction technologies. 

​​“In a pragmatic, just and well-managed energy transition, we must be laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions, while phasing up viable, affordable zero-carbon alternatives,” he said, adding that the UAE “will encourage smart government regulation to jump-start the hydrogen value chain and make carbon capture commercially viable.”

The statement effectively leaves the door open for the continued production and use of fossil fuels, which the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this year’s COP host, has repeatedly described as “key” components to a smooth energy transition. On multiple occasions, President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan assured that the UAE would keep providing fossil fuels to countries around the world “for as long as the world needs it.”

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, carbon capture technologies are not only an alternative, but “unavoidable” to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to under 1.5C. However, their deployment globally is still far from the scale required.

For the first time in nearly three decades of COP meetings, health issues with also be taken into account, Jaber announced on Tuesday.

“We will be the first COP to dedicate a day to health and the first to host a health and climate ministerial,” he said. “And we need to broaden our definition of adaptation to enable global climate resilience, transform food systems and enhance forestry land use and water management.”

Al-Jaber, who leads the world’s 12th-largest oil and gas company by production, was appointed in January to oversee this year’s UN climate change conference, which will take place in Dubai. The decision provoked a backlash from climate advocates and environmentalists, who fear Jaber’s connection to ADNOC – a state-owned company that pumps almost all the crude oil in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and produces about 3.2 million barrels a day – will hinder progress on global fossil fuel phase-out.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

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About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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